Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats


32O           MY    COUNTRY   AND    MY    PEOPLE

some special vinegar from Ghinkiang and a real Nanking
salted duck from Laoyuchai," or this, "This is the end of June,
and if you don't come, you won't taste another shad till next
May." Long before the autumn moon rises, a real scholar, like
Li Liweng as he himself confesses, would plan and save money
for the crabs, decide upon an historical place where he could
have the crab dinner with his friends under the mid-autumn
moon or in a wilderness of chrysanthemums, negotiate with
some of his friends to bring wine from Governor Tuan Fang's
cellar, and meditate upon it as the English meditate upon their
champion sweepstakes number. Only in this spirit can the
matter of feeding ourselves be elevated into the level of an
art.

We are unashamed of our eating. We have "Su Tungp'o
pork" and "Kiang bean-curd.** In England, a Wordsworth
steak or Galsworthy cutlet would be unimaginable. Words-
worth sang about "simple living and high thinking," but he
failed to note that good food, especially fresh-cut bamboo-
shoots and mushrooms, counts among the real joys of a simple
rural life. The Chinese poets, with a more utilitarian philo-
sophy, have frankly sung about the "minced perch and shun-
vegetable soup" of their native home. This thought is regarded
as so poetic that officials in their petition for resignation will
say that they are "thinking of $Attn-vegetable" as a most elegant
expression* Actually our love of fatherland is largely a matter
of recollection of the keen sensual pleasures of our childhood*
The loyalty to Uncle Sam is the loyalty to American dough-
nuts, and the loyalty to the Vaterland is the loyalty to Pfam-
kuffhen and StoUmy but the Americans and the Germans will not
admit it. Many Americans, while abroad, sigh for their ham
and sweet potatoes at home, but they will not admit that this
makes them think of home, nor will they put it in their poetry.1

The seriousness with which we regard eating can be shown
in many ways. Anyone who opens the pages of the Red Chamber
Dream or of any Chinese novel will be struck by the detailed
and constant descriptions of the entire menu of what Taiyii

* A striking fact is the frequency of words like "intestines*' and "belly" in
Chinese poetry: e.., "Tfce bamboo-shoots are fresh and my rice-bowl is too
small; the fish is delicious, and my wine-intestines widen/'